161. Memorandum From the Special Assistant for Federal Drug Management (Johnson) to the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (Bartels), the Senior Adviser on International Narcotics Matters (Vance), the Director of the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (DuPont), and the Associate Director of the Domestic Council (Shepard)1 2



This memorandum summarizes my notes of our meeting on Monday; I’m not the world’s best secretary, so these notes may be somewhat incomplete. In attendance: Vance, DuPont, Shepard, Horan (only Turkey discussion) and Johnson.



The only action regarding Turkey is taking place through the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board; President Ford and Secretary Kissinger have decided to put any bilateral U.S. action on the back burner pending further resolution of the Cyprus mess.
Sir Harry Greenfield, the highly respected architect of the Indian control plan, is beginning his mission to Ankara on August 28—U.S. position papers on controls developed in Geneva, Ankara, and by an Ad Hoc Task Force here have been distilled and fed to Sir Harry. (incidentally, these three independently developed papers were remarkably similar, even in detail.)
Sir Harry’s negotiating posture will begin with a strong attempt to convince Turkey not to plant at all this fall, and will encourage them to restrict acreage, to convert to bracteatum or straw, and strengthen controls. [Page 2]
  • - Betty Gough (one of our representatives in Geneva) will keep close to the negotiations and alert us quickly as to their probable direction.
  • - In response to Shepard’s question, Vance pointed out that Sir Harry potentially can tap (or encourage others to tap) the ten plus million dollars available in UNFDA, so that he certainly won’t be a “toothless tiger” in these negotiations.
We agreed that there was nothing that could be done on the bilateral front while Cyprus continued to properly dominate our attention, but agreed that it would be useful to instruct Ambassador Macomber to send a cable requesting a Presidential letter to Ecevit “when the time appears ripe.”


Ambassador Vance reported that an interagency task force has been meeting to get the last few hurdles cleared concerning the Compass Trip system, and that a mission will soon leave for Mexico.

We discussed the building evidence indicating the increased problem Mexican heroin was presenting domestically, and agreed that the situation is indeed getting worse and that Mexican heroin is the principal cause.

  • - There is a recent upsurge in demand for treatment, particularly in cities west of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • - A number of cities in that area are beginning to report troubling increases in heroin related deaths; e.g., Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, are all doubled year ago figures.
  • - The principal indicators—price and purity—are turning in the wrong direction across the country.
  • - In conversations with treatment and enforcement people from various sections of the country, Ed reported that they all point to brown heroin as being increasingly available.
We agreed to pull together these data in a more coherent and convincing way, and to consider exposing Mexican Government officials to at least highlights.
In response to Ed’s concern that only the crop eradication effort seemed to be receiving sufficient attention, Vance pointed out a recent case in which the Attorney General fired a corrupt official mere weeks after being presented with evidence of malfeasance.
  • - We agreed that this method should be stressed more in the future.
  • - We discussed, but reached no conclusions concerning, the possibility of accelerating our work in pulling together reports about corrupt officials and placing them before the Mexican AG for action.
  • - The question remaining is how to cope organizationally with the need to pull together information dealing with corruption in usable form; one proposal was for DEA to set up a Centac unit or similar high powered special team to focus on developing five or six solid cases of corruption.


A long, highly preliminary, discussion about where we were, where we were going, and how we planned to get there followed. The discussion seemed to revolve around a shared belief that the program seemed to be losing momentum, and [Page 4] general malaise about our inability to clearly articulate where we were and where we were going. Highlights of the conversation follow; this is obviously only one person’s interpretation and we certainly must discuss it again in far greater detail.

Recent evidence points to the fact that some of the gains made in the early years of the program have been eroded over the past several months, and risks are that more will be lost unless we move quickly to revitalize the program:
  • - The already mentioned increased in demand for treatment, heroin overdose deaths, and the unfavorable price and purity trends.
  • - The difficult budget season ahead, with each of the principal drug related activities threatened with substantial budget cuts.
  • - Our non-response to the Turkey situation (while correct in the broad national context, a disaster to the drug program).
  • - A commonly felt belief that somehow we were drifting, and that many of the people in our various organizations were beginning to feel as if they were “shoveling sand against the tide.”
  • - General uneasiness about the confident predictions all of us were making several months ago: perhaps they went too far.
We agreed that it was critical to “pull our act together” and to brief President Ford on the program and secure a renewed commitment to it. (Ed’s note Tuesday: perhaps in the form of a strong statement charging VP Rockefeller with responsibility.) [Page 5]
  • - Ed distributed the attached summary question and answer submitted last week as the first hint sent to the White House that problems were cropping up; everyone agreed with its content.
  • - We agreed that the more detailed Q & A briefing being coordinated by Ed this week was only a stop-gap way of informing the new President and his staff, and that much more was needed.
  • - We agreed to seek an early meeting at which the “Big Three” would personally brief the President.
  • - Before that time, however, it is necessary that we “get our act together” and develop a coordinated statement of the current situation and plans for the future.
The outlines, content, and form of that coordinated position is still fuzzy; however, it probably should touch on the following subjects:
  • - An accurate description of the current situation, pulling together the numbers available and analyzing them in some coherent way.
  • - A clear statement of the direction of the overall program.
  • - A statement of program priorities in a number of areas; treatment versus law enforcement, heroin as the number one drug versus others, focus of the international effort (e.g., crop eradication versus intelligence versus crop substitution versus supply interdiction).
  • - A clear statement of what we intend to do over the next few months, years and how much it will cost.
  • - A specific program for Presidential involvement to revitalize the program.
The timing of this coordinated effort is very short, since it was the general opinion that without Presidential blessing of a coherent statement of where we are and where we are going, we would “get eaten alive” in the budget review sessions.
We agreed to meet again on this issue very soon. DuPont suggested that the initial draft of any position probably should be done by Ed since his was the coordinative office.
  1. Source: Ford Library, F. Lynn May Files, Box 3, Drug Abuse, General (1). Administratively Confidential; Eyes Only. The attachment was not found. “Compass Trip” refers to a multi-spectral aerial surveillance system to detect opium poppy plantings.
  2. The memorandum summarized the discussion of an August 19 meeting on the status and future of federal drug control efforts.